Sedated Bear.jpg

Boo the Bear and the case of the Nghe An 13 Bears is rapidly becoming a poster child for Vietnam's runaway illegal wildlife trade.  In an unusual move, the detailed facts of this investigation have been made public to aid supporting governments and NGOs to take action.  

The case has won an Honourable Mention in the International Photography Awards Deeper Perspective and a short film about the case called Lawless Lands was chosen to be screened at the International Vegan Film Festival 2020.  It has also featured in several publications including The Diplomat. 

Overview of the Case

An undercover conservation investigation discovered two closely located illegal bear farms on August 2018 in Quynh Yen, Quynh Luu, Nghe An Province, Vietnam.  Farm 1 contained nine bears and Farm 2 contained four bears.

On 30th May 2019, the Nghe An Authorities finally persuaded Nguyen Duc Duy to release three of the nine bears on Farm 1 after a violent riot and attempted kidnap.


Although Duc Duy claims that of the remaining six bears on Farm 1, three are legal and the other three have damaged microchips, the evidence below reveals that they are unchipped, were poached from Laos and are being used for commercial bile extraction.

Evidence That The Bears Are Illegal

  1. Bears Visibly Too Young To Be Legal.  ​                                              -  A 2005 microchip programme registered all captive bears in Vietnam.    This means legally owned bears are at least 15 years old.                  - The investigation revealed that the 9 bears on Farm 1 were small,          young and therefore illegal.                                                                                    -  Farm 2 had one smaller bear and 3 slightly larger ones.  The larger         bears did not show any obvious signs of adulthood/ageing.                 eg: broken teeth, calloused paws and the long-haired neck                   ruff was only visible when roused to aggression.                               - See photos and videos.                            

  2. Microchip Excuses Are Irrelevant.                                                    - As the bears were visibly too young to be legal, Duc Duy's claims that      microchips were broken are irrelevant.                                            - The Nghe An Authorities should therefore have confiscated the bears        immediately and without question. 

  3. ​Rescue Team Confirms Bears Are Illegal.                                                              - Whilst rescuing 3 bears from Farm 1, Emily Lloyd from Four Paws          stated:                                                                                    - “It was pretty sad to have to leave the others behind, especially seeing     that some were also young and therefore illegal bears.” 

  4. No registered bear cubs in Nghe An Province.                                    - A common excuse when caught with illegal bear cubs/adolescents is to    claim they were born on the farm.                                                  - This is not possible as "based on microchipping data, there are no bear    cubs in Quynh Luu or in any farm in Nghe An Province."     

  5. Nguyen Duc Duy Admits Bears Are Illegal.                                         - See video/audio entitled ‘Wildlife Farmer Admits Bears Are Illegal.'      - The translator states that Duc Duy reveals in the video that some of his      bears used to be microchipped but that none of them are now.    



6. Oxford University Academic Confirms Bears are Illegal.                     - To corroborate the attending Vietnamese translator, an Oxford                Academic translates the ‘Wildlife Farmer Admits Bears Are Illegal"          video/audio.  He states:                                                                                        Duc Duy “admitted that they first bought these bears illegally”                 - Duc Duy “is aware that he is keeping the bears illegally”

7. Video interview with the translator who attended the farms.                  - See video below entitled 'Vietnamese Translator's Evidence.'               - The farmer admitted to the translator that he bought the bears as1kg         cubs from Laos.                                                                         - As Asiatic Black Bears are CITES Appendix I species this breaks             international conservation laws.                                                   - Duc Duy also said the bears were all aged 3 - 5 years old.                 - There was also a  7-month-old cub. 

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8. Wildlife Crime Unit (ENV) corroborates information.                                   - Education for Nature Vietnam's Wildlife Crime Unit carried out              their own independent undercover investigation on Farm 1 before          attempting to confiscate the bears.                                                 - An investigation into Farm 2 was never carried out!!

9. Duc Duy Tries to Get the Bears Microchipped                                    - Duc Duy approached an NGO to get the bears microchipped after        the initial investigation put his illegal wildlife business on the map.

Evidence of Commercial Level Exploitation

  1. Duc Duy Illegally Extracts Large Quantities of Bile                           - See Video entitled 'Illegal Wildlife Farmer Extracts Bile.'                      - Although it is illegal to extract bile, the Authorities are more likely to act    if one can prove it is commercially motivated.                                      - Video shows Duc Duy extracting approximately 300ml of bile from          three bears on Farm 2.                                                                - Bile must be kept in a fridge and used relatively quickly.  As bile is          used in1ml bottles, a family could not use 300ml before its sell by          date.                                                                                  - At approx $2 per ml, 300ml would make Duc Duy about $600.  

  2. Bear Bile Production Line                                                            - See photos of people bottling and labelling bile in Nguyen Duc Duy’s      dining room.                                                                            - Man in baseball cap is cutting labels to fix to bottles.  One does not      need to label bile bottles for personal use.  Labelling shows a clear      intention of selling for commercial gain. 

  3. Online Illegal Wildlife Platform and Bear Bile Hotline                 The bile from the two Nghe Province farms is sold via an online shop       and 24 hour bear bile hotline located in Hanoi.                               - Releasing these details may cause the bears to be killed so to protect       them, they are being withheld.                                                     - The Hanoi bear bile dealer is called Tran Quang Hong.                     - His brother, Tran Quang Huan, works on Duc Duy's bear bile farms in     Nghe An Province.                                                       

  4. Online Illegal Wildlife Platform Linked to Network of Legal Businesses                                                                       - The online illegal wildlife platform is part of a national network     of legal businesses.                                                         - Details are being withheld from this site to protect future             operations.                                                            

Evidence of Violence

Rescue of Lili, Lac and Lulu from Farm 1

  1. Education for Nature Vietnam Wildlife Crime Unit Press Release - 31/5/19

    • "ENV undertook what was without doubt our riskiest bear mission to date. This included a hair-raising standoff with stone-throwing villagers who piled straw around the ENV inspection team’s vehicle and threatened to set fire to the car if the team did not submit themselves into their custody. The ugly standoff only ended after intervention by the Forest Protection Department enabled our team to beat a tactical retreat."​


    • ​"I confirm that ***** is a driver of my company. He went to Nghe An for ENV -. He also talk to me that had a fight. Some people prevented our car with bad atitude. He was so scared of them." 

    • We have contact details of the driver upon request.

  3. Four Paws - Emily Lloyd (attended bear rescue at Farm 1)

    • "it was really stressful (we did the whole rescue in one hour) and quite hostile.  

    • "There was no way it would have been possible for us to check the other bears with our own chip reader due to the tense situation."

General Lawlessness of Nghe An Province

  1. Tuan Bendixsen - Director of Animals Asia Vietnam

  • "In 2007 we were chased off a bear farm in Quynh luu while trying to rescue 2 cubs and an immature bear. The central Forest Protection Department led the rescue with a contingency of around 50 officers including police but all to no avail.  Those bears were never rescued, we don't know where they are now."